A recent meta-analysis of multiple scientific studies has discovered that healthy plant-based diets can lower the risk of type-2 diabetes by over 23%, a significant figure.
The paper was published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine and was conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health located in Boston, Massachusetts. It started from the kernel of the idea that one of the main risk factors for type-2 diabetes (the most common type) is the diet. And this health issue can be avoided, especially if people change their dietary patterns and habits.
More than 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes — the set of conditions that precede the development of type 2 diabetes, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A whole host of studies published over the past few years suggest that predominantly plant-based diets can reduce the risk of diabetes. The meta-analysis from the Harvard team concerned nine of these papers. They all looked at the possible link between dietary patterns and the risk of type-2 diabetes. If we look at the overall numbers of these studies brought together, we can see that there were 307,000 participants. Of these, over 23,000 suffered from type-2 diabetes.
"Plant-based dietary patterns are gaining popularity in recent years, so we thought it was crucial to quantify their overall association with diabetes risk, particularly since these diets can vary substantially in terms of their food composition," notes Frank Qian, the first author of the review.
Why plant-based diets?
Plant-based diets can have an astonishing variety and therefore can be hard to define. The study authors emphasized that they were talking about predominantly plant-based diets. And these are built upon consuming fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. These diets can also have small quantities of meat but also unhealthier items like potatoes and sugar.
The researchers discovered that those who adhered more strictly to plant-based diets would benefit from the lower risk of type-2 diabetes, as opposed to the participants who were laxer in their approach.
This type of diet helps the body because plant-based diets are better at regulating insulin sensitivity and blood pressure. And the same foods can help avoid weight gain and can reduce inflammation.